American Beauty (1999)

It is common practice in Hollywood to film exteriors of homes on location, while filming interiors on studio lots.  For the 1999 Sam Mendes film, “American Beauty,” an unusual approach was taken to film the exteriors on a studio lot and the interiors in real locations.

Lester Burnham, played by Kevin Spacey, lives at this house, the exterior of which is located on the Warner Bros. Ranch in Burbank, California.  The ranch is a small lot located apart from the main studio lot, and is unfortunately not open to public tours.  The house is also well known for having been used as the Griswold home in 1989’s “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”  It has also appeared in the films “Hocus Pocus,” “Small Soldiers,” “Pleasantville” and more.  As is often the case with houses on studio lots, the outer facade has since changed a bit from how it appeared in the film.

americanbeauty1

LOCATION: 411 N Hollywood Way, Burbank, CA 91505

The interiors of Lester’s home were filmed at this house, located in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles.

americanbeauty2

LOCATION: 11388 Homedale St, Los Angeles, CA 90049

To the right of the Bernham house at the Warner Bros. Ranch is the exterior of the Colonel’s house.  This house is most well known for being Danny Glover’s home in the “Lethal Weapon” films.  Known as the Lindsay house, it has also appeared in The Three Stooges serials, “Pushing Daisies,” “The Middle” and many more.  Once again, the outer facade has changed a bit from how it appeared in the film.  The interior of the Colonel’s house was filmed at 330 S Windsor Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90020.

americanbeauty3

LOCATION: 411 N Hollywood Way, Burbank, CA 91505

To the left of the Burnham house is the house of the two Jims, played by Scott Bakula and Sam Robards.  To stand on Blondie Street at the Warner Bros Ranch, where all three of the house exteriors are located, it really does feel like you’re standing in a real neighborhood.  It’s only when you approach up close that the facades begin to show.

americanbeauty4

LOCATION: 411 N Hollywood Way, Burbank, CA 91505

Rebel Without A Cause (1955)

The memorable knife fight in the 1955 James Dean film, “Rebel Without a Cause,” was famously filmed at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California.  The location is so synonymous with the film, there have been many other subsequent productions, directly inspired by “Rebel Without a Cause” to also shoot at the Observatory, including “La La Land” and Paula Abdul’s “Rush Rush” music video (featuring Keanu Reeves in the Dean role).

griffith1

LOCATION: 2800 E Observatory Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

There is even a statue of James Dean at the observatory, honoring his iconic performance.

griffith8

Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

In Steven Soderbergh’s ensemble heist remake, “Ocean’s Eleven,” the gang plans out a “pinch” to create a temporary blackout on the Las Vegas Strip.  The scenes in which they steal the device to create the electromagnetic pulse were filmed at the Gillespie Neuroscience Research Facility on the UC Irvine campus in California.

oceanseleven1

LOCATION: 829 Health Sciences Rd, Irvine, CA 92617

The ending, with the gang all standing in front of the casino fountain, was filmed at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

oceanseleven2

LOCATION: 3600 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109

Falling Down (1993)

In Joel Schumacher’s 1993 film “Falling Down,” Michael Douglas plays the central character, referred to only as “D-Fens,” which is his license plate number.  The film follows D-Fens as he makes his was from Los Angeles to Venice Beach.  For the most part, the locations actually do follow this path, with a few exceptions.

The opening traffic jam is set at the 101 interchange of the 110 freeway.  The traffic pileup is in the southbound lane to the left, while D-Fens abandons his car and takes the northbound lane to the right on foot.

fallingdown1

LOCATION: Interchange of I-110 / I-101, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Beth, the estranged wife of D-Fens, played by Barbara Hershey, lives just off the Venice boardwalk.  This view next to her house, facing towards the beach, is seen multiple times in the film.

fallingdown2

LOCATION: 201 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA 90291

Beth’s house was unfortunately completely remodeled and looks nothing like it did in the film.

fallingdown3

LOCATION: 18 Ozone Ave, Venice, CA 90291

The police station where Detective Prendergast, played by Robert Duvall, works was a set built at Warner Bros. Studios (4000 Warner Blvd, Burbank, CA 91522).

D-Fens makes his was to the market of Mr. Lee, where the first outburst of violence occurs over an overpriced can of soda.  This location is right next to the 101 freeway, making it a logical stop along the path of D-Fens.  The market has since been demolished and a park (Madison West Park) now exists in it’s place.

fallingdown4

LOCATION: 458 N Madison Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90004

Later in the film, Prendergast makes his way to the market and climbs this embankment.  After spotting a billboard, he correctly places the proximity to the abandoned car and identifies D-Fens as his suspect.  A note to those interested in visiting, this dead end next to the park is not a very safe area, serving as a makeshift homeless community.

fallingdown5

As D-Fens makes his way through East L.A., he sits to rest and is approached by two gang members demanding his briefcase.  D-Fens refuses and things quickly turn violent.  The hilltop where the scene was shot has been converted in to a park, Vista Hermosa Natural Park, but the skyline of downtown Los Angeles still matches up.

fallingdown6

LOCATION: 100 N Toluca St, Los Angeles, CA 90026

Looking for retribution, the gang members spot D-Fens in front of a theater, where they attempt to ambush him with a drive-by shooting.  The theater has since been demolished, but the surrounding buildings where the car rolls up still match.

fallingdown7

LOCATION: 2524 East Cesar E Chavez Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90033 (looking down from N Fickett St)

After hitting everyone in sight except D-Fens, their car turns off East Ceasar E Chavez Ave onto N Ficket St and crashes in front of this building.  D-Fens walks up and takes their bag of weapons.

fallingdown8

LOCATION: 2600 East Cesar E Chavez Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90033 (at N Fickett St)

D-Fens is standing next to a children’s playground in MacArthur Park, when a beggar starts asking him for a handout.  The playground has since been moved to another section of the park, but the structure to the left, seen in the film, still stands at the original spot.

fallingdown9

LOCATION: 2230 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90057

The beggar follows D-Fens through this tunnel, making up a sob story, which is quickly exposed as a lie.  MacArthur Park is not the safest of areas in general.  We wouldn’t recommend tourism here. This pedestrian walkway is one of several locations rumored to be the bridge that served as the inspiration for the Red Hot Chili Peppers song “Under the Bridge,” but singer Anthony Kiedis has never confirmed the true location.

fallingdown10

On the other side of the tunnel, the D-Fens gives the beggar his briefcase.  The lake in the background is also seen in the movie “Drive,” where Ryan Gosling’s character makes a deal with some criminals.

fallingdown11

After discovering the briefcase only contains some lunch food, the disappointed beggar throws the apple at D-Fens, who kicks the apple and continues up the stairs to the left.

fallingdown12

The “Whammyburger” in the film is the biggest departure from the true path of Los Angeles to Venice Beach.  The restaurant, Angelo’s Burgers, is located much further south in Lynwood, California.  It still bears a strong resemblance to how it appeared in the film, aside from the fictitious Whammyburger set dressing.  Angelo’s was in fact the same restaurant at the time of filming.  It has not changed ownership.  The burgers there are quite good as well.

fallingdown13

LOCATION: 10990 Atlantic Ave, Lynwood, CA 90262

A view inside the Whammyburger.

fallingdown14

fallingdown15

A poster for the film can be found inside, noting that filming took place on May 12, 1992.

fallingdown16

Celebrating his last day, Prendergast eats lunch at a Mexican restaurant.

fallingdown17

LOCATION: 4067 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90004

In one of the more poignant scenes in the film, D-Fens sees a man protesting, because he has been denied a loan and was determined to be “not economically viable.”  The building is now a post office.

fallingdown18

LOCATION: 5350 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

The scene where D-Fens shoots up a phone booth was shot over on Sunset Blvd in West Hollywood, right along the iconic Sunset Strip.  The El Pollo Loco restaurant to the left was seen in the film, although most of the other businesses in the plaza have since changed.

fallingdown19

LOCATION: 8148 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046

The army surplus store where D-Fens meets a Nazi store owner can be found back towards East L.A.  The building really is a surplus store and still operates today.  The real owners are nothing like the eccentric man in the film and are very welcoming to visitors.

fallingdown20

LOCATION: 3828 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026

A view of the front counter, which is brimming with quite a bit more merchandise than seen in the film.

fallingdown21

Some of the rocket mortar props seen in the film are still found in the store, albeit a bit tucked away.

fallingdown22

The back of the surplus store, where more violence occurs, was actually a set construced at Warner Bros. Studios (4000 Warner Blvd, Burbank, CA 91522).

The construction scene, where D-Fens fires a bazooka, faces towards the 110 and 105 freeway interchange.  The same interchange can be seen in the films “Speed” and “La La Land,” the latter of which also opens with a traffic jam, albeit to much different results.

fallingdown23

LOCATION: Intersection of S Broadway / W 112th St, Los Angeles, CA 90061

This church can be seen in the background of a few shots during the construction scene.

fallingdown24

Near the end of the film, D-Fens finally finds his family at the Venice Fishing Pier.  The pier had long been closed at the time of filming and was once set for demolition, but after community backlash, was ultimately saved and restored.  The building at the end of the pier is no longer there, but otherwise the area looks the same for the most part.

fallingdown25

LOCATION: Venice Fishing Pier, Los Angeles, CA 90292

Prendergast approaches and finally meets D-Fens.

fallingdown26

Prendergast and D-Fens have a standoff in the film’s climactic scene.

fallingdown27

There are quite a few locations to this film, some demolished or remodeled, others still standing.  Other than a few slightly unsafe areas, if you’re a fan of visiting filming locations, most of them are worth a visit.  “Falling Down” has grown in stature in the years since the film’s release and it has rightly taken it’s place among the the most iconic Los Angeles-based films.

Friday (1995)

In the 1995 comedy “Friday,” Craig, played by Ice Cube, lives at this Los Angeles house.  He hangs out with Smokey, played by Chris Tucker, on the front porch.

friday1

LOCATION: 1418 W 126th St, Los Angeles, CA 90047

Across the street is Miss Parker’s house.

friday2

LOCATION: 1423 W 126th St, Los Angeles, CA 90047

Tangerine (2015)

Sean Baker’s 2015 film “Tangerine” made waves at the Sundance Film Festival for being shot entirely with iPhones.  The film depicts the life of a transgender Los Angeles prostitute, Sin-Dee, played by Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, as she discovers her boyfriend and pimp has been cheating on her.

The opening scene, as well as later scenes, were filmed at the former Donut Time on Santa Monica Blvd.  The filmmakers aimed for authenticity in their choice of locations, as this section of Hollywood is widely known for prostitution.  The Donut Time has since been replaced by Trejo’s Coffee and Donuts, owned and operated by actor Danny Trejo.

tangerine1

LOCATION: 6785 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90038

Sin-Dee makes her way down to the Vermont / Santa Monica Metro Station.

tangerine2

LOCATION: 1015 N Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90029

She sits at this bench in front of the station, considering her next moves.

tangerine3

Sin-Dee makes her way to a motel full of drug addicts and prostitutes, in search of another prostitute, whom she believes is cheating with her boyfriend.  This is the former Grand Motel, which has since closed.  Amy Winehouse also filmed scenes for her music video for “Tears Dry On Their Own” at the motel.

tangerine4

LOCATION: 1479 S La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035

Another view of the former motel property, which is now fenced off until it is either remodeled or demolished.

tangerine5

Related articles: The Florida Project (2017)

The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button (2008)

The 2008 David Fincher film “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” shot mostly in the New Orleans area, with some additional sequences filmed in Quebec, Canada and the Los Angeles County area.

Benjamin Button, played by Brad Pitt, is born at this house, known as the Lanaux Mansion Bed and Breakfast in New Orleans. In the film, the house belongs to Benjamin’s father, played by Jason Flemyng, who, upon seeing Benjamin at birth, grabs him and takes him away from the home. Later in the film, an adult Benjamin returns to the home to visit his ailing father.

benjaminbutton2

LOCATION: 547 Esplanade Ave, New Orleans, LA 70116

The house where Benjamin lives for much of the film and where he meets Daisy, played by Cate Blanchett, is known as the Nolan House. The shrubs lining the property have grown much higher since filming completed, making portions of the house and yard unfortunately more difficult to see.

benjaminbutton1

LOCATION: 2707 Coliseum St, New Orleans, LA 70130

Mr. Oti, played by Rampai Mogadishu, takes Benjamin to this peristyle, where they sit and talk as they look out onto the water. The peristyle can be found at the New Orleans City Park.

benjaminbutton3

LOCATION: 42 Dreyfous Dr, New Orleans, LA 70119

We leave you with a prop from the film; one of the aged, prosthetic masks worn by Brad Pitt. It can be seen on the Paramount Studio Tour.

benjaminbutton4

LOCATION: 5555 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038

The Dark Crystal (1982)

As part of the Jim Henson “Imagination Unlimited” Exhibition at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, some puppets and props from Henson’s 1982 film “The Dark Crystal” were on display.  The exhibition ran from June 1 through September 2, 2018.

Here are the Kira and Jen puppets.  Jim Henson served as puppeteer for Jen in the film.

darkcrystal1

This is the puppet for SkekSil the Chamberlain, for which Frank Oz served as puppeteer.

darkcrystal2

Some miscellaneous props used by the Skeksis, Mystics and Pod People.

darkcrystal3

Some tie-in books to the film.

darkcrystal4

While the exhibition has since closed, all of these pieces were on loan from New York’s Museum of Moving Image (gifted by the family of Jim Henson) and will likely go back on display there at a future date.

Related articles: Labyrinth (1986)